DJ Mark Ronson and singer Bruno Mars have been accused of copyright infringement by almost directly copying the bass line, guitar riff, and other elements of electrofunk soul band Collage’s 1983 hit “Young Girls” in their 2014 song “Uptown Funk.” The songwriters for “Uptown Funk” have previously stated that the creation of “Uptown Funk” was influenced by the “Minneapolis electrofunk soul” sound of the early 1980s. In the lawsuit, Collage stated that the “Defendants’ copying of plaintiffs’ music composition and/or sound recording titled ‘Young Girls’ is so blatant, clear, and explicit so as to only be reasonably characterized even by a layperson in the first several seconds as ‘strikingly similar’ in rhythm, harmony, melody, structure, nature, etc.”
The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Collage’s sole surviving member Larry White and the estates of its two late members, Grady Wilkins and Lee Peters.
This will be the second copyright infringement claim filed against Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars over the song. The Gap Band sued the duo for taking sections off of their 1979 song “Oops! Upside Your Head.” The Gap Band was award 17 percent of all publishing royalties and extra writing credits.
This case is very similar to last year’s popular copyright infringement case over Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines.” The Ninth Circuit issued a verdict ordering Williams and Thicke to pay $5.4 million along with ongoing royalties to Marvin Gaye’s relatives after a jury found that elements of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” were taken and implemented in “Blurred Lines.” Many artists filed a brief, urging the Ninth Circuit to set aside the verdict, because they believed it “threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.” The artists include: Earth, Wind, & Fire; Hall & Oates; Linkin Park; Weezer; Jennifer Hudson; Hans Zimmer; R. Kelly; Jason Mraz; and Aloe Blacc.